By Mike Chambers
Whilst looking through some old car mag’s for an article to enthral you newsletter readers, I came across a piece on Vauxhall Crestas that brought back some memories which I will relate.
Back in 1962 as a young single man with a passion for cars and all that made them work, I was stationed in Devonport ( My navy days ) and I was known as a bit of a man who new about cars.
A friend of mine having just returned from a considerable time at sea and having some spare cash was desperate to buy a car now he had some time on shore. He approached me to go with him to the car auction ( Yes even back then they existed ) to purchase his dream car to pull the birds ( Slang for girls to you younger readers ) .
Well, for some reason that I can not now recall I did not attend the auction with him, and he having more money than sense bid and purchased a Vauxhall Cresta in outlandish two tone of Grey/Pink or White/Green ( I’m not sure which ).
WAS THIS IT , OR PERHAPS
Anyway I was introduced to this glistening chrome machine in brand new condition and as it was only a couple of years old he seemed to have an unbelievable bargain ( Later events proved it to be expensive junk ) and all without my help.
This kind of knocked me back and not being as cynical as I am now I was very pleased for him, and pestered for a drive around town that evening for some serious bird pulling.
After a few days I began to have some doubts so we looked for evidence of a shunt, nothing could be found but the paintwork did look just a bit too good.
Two to three weeks after purchase my friend decided to drive home to see his parents (And flash the car off at home ), this would be the cars first long drive. His trip home on the Friday night was terrible, took hours extra, traffic jams all the way (Nothing changes ) he told me on the Monday along with the bad news the front window screen is cracked and would need replacing. The funny thing he informed me was he could not remember a stone hitting the screen ( Now the trouble really started )
As you can see from the picture, Crestas have a complicated rap round screen, Anyway off we go to the garage to have a new screen fitted ( No instant replacement type places in those days ). Well next day he received a call from the garage to come and see the car, so off we go again.
On arrival at the garage the owner greets us with gloom all over his face, “come and see this he says”, so into the workshop we trot “ HORROR-HORROR” the new screen sits in the car with one side of wraparound in position on drivers side but the otherside wraparound Is about 2 inches ( 50mm for modern folk ) away from frame. He then tells us the car has been in a serious accident and the whole front of the car is twisted ( No wonder we could not find any respray tell tail every thing had been installed after paint job ). My friend now sees his money disappearing and no car to boot ( Auctions only gave a 24hour warranty in time's past ).
So what can he do, he asks the garage man, he points out the last screen was OK for several weeks, so if he pays in advance and it goes in without braking, sell it fast, only drive it gently and not over bumps.( Now he knows why he has no recall of a stone hitting the screen ). With this being the only way to salvage something from the situation he pays up and we watch amazed as the screen goes in with the aid of wood wedges. The job completed and it's driven back to camp slowly and parked ( Not telling a sole what’s happened ).
We now start looking for a car to part exchange it for, I suggest he looks for something that’s perhaps a bit on the expensive side so the dealer is making more and if we take a low price for the Cresta we stand a better chance of a quick deal, as he will appear to be a mug.
First off he has to arrange a bank loan so it’s a cash deal ( We want a fast getaway ). With this done and a fist full cash we scour the papers and ask around, there is one dealer in Devenport we told to give a wide berth, this is the one for us.
We are in luck he has a 3.8, Jaguar, one owner, first class condition and a very high price.
I have no memory of what colour the Jag was, it was a Mk II 3.8 as above but not with wire wheels.
Off we go to see it (Not with the Cresta he’s frighten to drive it ), it is in first class nick, one owner but very high mileage for year, We sound him out and run the engine, he offers a test drive and we sit in it acting enthralled pretending not to notice it's going to need a complete set of new tyres soon. We tell him if it's fully serviced and ready to go for tomorrow he has a deal, only we are being posted ( Moved to another ship, not sent by royal mail for you landlubbers ). He reminds us the quotation for the Cresta is only valid if it is as good as we say it is ( The price he’s offering would be about right for a junk heap ).
Next day we return in the evening when its dark (so he can not see how slow we drive the Cresta ) he does a quick drive back and forth on the plot and looks it over, ( We have managed to get it quite dirty so it does not look to good ) I’m sure he can not believe his luck so my friend tries the next ploy, The price for the Cresta is to low, we now get the spiel about nobody wants Crestas and he can sell Jaguars ten times over and the hard sell that the Jaguar is at a low price, So my friend backs down pays the cash difference gets the log book (Remember those) hands over the Cresta papers and the deed is done (Except my friend is going to be paying for the Jaguar for the next couple of years ). We try one more dig and ask for a full tank of petrol for the Jaguar as the Crestas tank is full ( It’s hardly been driven ), He fills the Jaguar, which is not to bad as it holds twice as much as the Cresta. Off we go like a rocket, with a little sense of guilt ( Not quite true, In fact feeling pretty dam good ).
Well, that’s about the end of the story except that my friend never did have any trouble with the Jaguar, we were bought lots of drinks for being able to con the conman and as to what happened to the Cresta I’ve no idea.
All The Best